Sunday, December 30, 2012

Waiting for a train after visiting a chandlery, what a view.
We have been busy sight seeing this last week.  After a lovely pot luck Christmas dinner we spent the next few days visiting the area.  On Boxing Bay I went to the Kirenbosch botanical gardens.  Not only were the gardens beautiful but there were so many families getting together having picnics in the grassy areas on the garden, it was obvious that family celebrations were in order in Cape Town on Boxing Day.  On the way back from the gardens we noticed that the beaches were crowded as well.  It is the height of summer and most businesses are closed down over the holidays so it is time to visit family and friends.
The view from the botanical gardens
The winding path through the gardens which is built on the side of a mountain.
Yesterday we went into Cape Town and accomplished our goal of climbing up Table Mountain.  Unfortunately it was misty, but there is always a bright side to every story, although once we got to the top we could not see a thing, we were very comfortable climbing up because it was cool.  It took Barry and Brian an hour and 15 minutes to get up and Dorothy hung back with me and we took an hour and a half. It was a steady climb up rocky steps, which we often 2 normal steps high, back and forth across the mountain face. We decided to take the cable car down rather than put our bodies through too much in one day. 
The guys waiting for us at the top. 
The top of Table Mountain, you will just have to take my word for it. 
 We headed down and went to the touristy waterfront where we watched the latest Tom Cruise movie, Jack Reacher.  He is a character in Lee Childs books and in the book he is 6 foot 5 and 220 pounds so we did not think Tom was very good casting but he did  a pretty good job of creating a believable Reacher.  
On the way back from the botanical gardens we went on a fantastic drive along the west side of the cape and there were come spectacular views.  South Africa is a country full of  beautiful vistas. 
Hout Bay

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas from South Africa. 

One of my activities on Christmas Day was to rescue my shoe.  I kicked it off as I climbed off another boat and down it went.  Later on in the day I decided to see if I could rescue it. It was really cold when I got in.  I had to remember I was a Canadian and cold water was not a problem.  When I went down the first time I saw it, but had to put on a weight belt to be able to get down to the bottom to get it. Success was achieved.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I think this is one of the most scenic places we have ever hauled out. 

We are back in the water!!  Last Friday we hauled the boat out of the water and spent 5 days working like beavers.  We had the yard guys do the dirty work of sanding off the old bottom paint and filling the osmosis blisters that appeared.  We then put three coats of tanker orange paint on.  While the workers did their thing Barry and I took all the old caulking off the toe rail, both inside and out and applied new special marine grade sealant to hopefully keep the water out for a few more years. 
It wasn’t all work though, we were situated just down the hill from a restaurant.  It is tourist season here now, the kids are off school and everyone is on holidays. 
Our view from the top of the boat, the guys would sing on the steps. 
Each day a choral group would show up at the restaurant and serenade the diners.  If I stood up on the combing of the boat at the back I had a perfect view. The group called the Khayelitsha Peace Makers would clap and jive as their wonderful harmonies echoed out over the harbour.  One afternoon Lynn from Cloud Nine and I stopped work early and attended a violin and piano recital at a local church.  The musicians were outstanding, the violinist had studied and played in London and was the first chair with the South African Philharmonic for years.  I have never before experienced in person such a virtuoso. The pianist was fantastic as well and they played a wonderful variety of music, what a treat. 
Great action shot isn't it!!!
When we went back in the water our good buddies on Sea Level, Kent and Jim, and Don from Minerva, were there to catch our lines.  Kent took some great shots of Cat’s-Paw IV going in the water.  
The band to send of the boats to St. Helena, perhaps they will do that when we leave too. 
The Governor’s Cup is a race from here to St. Helena’s and it is scheduled to leave today at noon.  It is about a 10 day race, there are 22 boats that are participating.  The docks have been just humming with people provisioning their boats as well as making sure all their lines are correct. A couple of guys had a spinnaker and a gennaker on deck the other day and I was green with envy.  More and more of our buddies from across the Pacific are arriving.  Quite a few are out at anchor waiting to come into the marina once the racers leave today.  Our social life is very full.  I have also been trying to get into shape to climb up Table Mountain with Brian and Dorothy from Tagish so have been hiking around the hills as often as I can.  

The weather is very weird here, it is either honking a gale of 30 knots or it is as calm as can be.  While we were on the hard the wind made conditions difficult for painting.  It was so hot and windy the paint would be drying before we could get it rolled on properly.  At night the boat would vibrate on the stands the wind blew so hard, that was not a pleasant experience. I also repainted the Cat’s-Paw IV on the back of the boat and ladder would shake, I would curse and get out the rag with the turpentine and wipe off the area where the brush had strayed over the lines.  I was okay with the Cat’s-Paw IV, it was in cursive writing and the curves were rather forgiving,  the Victoria, B.C. was a pain because it is all straight lines and was very difficult. 

Yesterday we took the train, three stops down the line to a place called Fish Hoek and bought a car load full of groceries, oh, excuse me, provisions, in sailor talk.  It took three loads  with the dock cart to get them to the boat and well over an hour to stow them.  I think we are good to cross the Atlantic and perhaps we could even feed a small country for a day.  Well I must go, time to go and hike up the hill again. It is a pleasant +20 here at the moment and there is no wind, the best time to hike. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

In Cape Town with Table Mountain in the background

Brian, Dorothy, Barry and I came up with this version of the 12 days of Christmas when we were travelling by car from Krueger National Park back to Richard's Bay.  It was great fun,  Barry originally did not want to participate but listened quite closely, we were having trouble with the African version of "a partridge in a pear tree" when he came up with the baboon being in the baobab tree and we all thought that was perfect.  So enjoy our African version....

On the twelfth  day of Christmas, my true love gave to me

12 roaring lions
11 happy hippos
10 red billed hornbills
9 bellowing buffaloes
8 rollicking rhinos
7 laughing hyenas
6 zany zebras
5 trumpeting elephants
4 galloping giraffes
3 wallowing warthogs
2 lounging leopards
And a baboon in a baobab tree.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I went walking the other day and discovered that Simon's Town  has a unique feature.  Since it is built on the side of a hill, there are staircases that connect one level of the town to the next.  If you wish you can hike up the steps and gain a lot of vertical feet in a short time.  In order to keep up with Brian and Dorothy on our proposed ascent of Table Mountain, I am trying to get in shape by trucking up and down these staircases.  It was truly a spectacular view from the top of twar he town. 
Notice the white caps that the +30 knots winds have been generating
I haven't managed to get to the museum yet but Simon's Town was a favoured anchorage in the winter months, and it is suggested that Nelson may have come ashore here when he was a midshipman, the |American Confederate ship the Alabama docked here during the Civil War shortly before it was sunk by the British, the town fairly reeks with naval history.  
Houses are perched on the side of quite dramatic hillsides.  I only climbed up to where the buildings stopped, perhaps I should explore to see if these heights can scaled.

The other day an American boat, Sea Level invited us to tour a township called Langa.  This township came into being in the 1960's when there was a need for migrant workers to build the city of Cape Town.

A family would have to  live in the space the size of this bed, they also would have a locker where they would store their food, there was no mess, everyone had to be tidy in order that your area was kept neat and tidy and did not infringe on another's family's space.
 The original brick buildings housed only the men and they lived 3 to a room.  In the 70's the women and children were allowed to join the men and overcrowding began as 3 families were living in the space intended for only 3 men.  In order to have privacy the younger generation moved out of the gov't provided brick housing, moving into shacks.
The unpleasant looking shacks on the outside, but surprisingly modern inside.
Although at that time the shacks did not have running water, electricity or sanitary facilities, they did have a measure of privacy.  We got to see into one of these shacks and the family living there had 2 large screen TV's, a full sized fridge, a microwave and a stove.  The drawback was that if it was really hot or really cold or if it rained the thin, drafty walls and roofs may not withstand the weather.
In the same area, there were upper and middle class homes, when the apartheid restrictions were lifted people who were living in single family dwellings were given ownership of their homes.  This part of the township life is not shown on TV, all I ever saw were the shacks, there were neighbourhoods that looked like small town Canada.
Three generations would live in this house. 
Our guide pointed out that respect and dignity were a huge part of their culture and that having your  children receive a higher education is a prized goal for families.  If their offspring gains a good education, and gets a well paying job, he or she can help to finance the building of a large family home and thus the family will have an elevated status in the community. The tour was a real eye opener, we learned so much I would recommend a township tour to any traveller in South Africa, it will surely expand your knowledge of this country.
Perhaps the future leader of South Africa!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Rounding Cape Agulhas, the southern tip of Africa                   
We are safe and sound in False Bay which is just east of Cape Town, SA.  We have not passed the Cape of   Good Hope yet, we have to round it to get to Cape Town, but we are now in the Atlantic Ocean and we are very happy to be here.  We are on the opposite side of the cape to Cape Town and is it windy here or what. Barry was almost blown off the dock today!!
 A long passage is hard but your body gets used to the sleep patterns, this sailing for 1 or 2 nights is for the birds.  You sleep on and off for a day, you are really tired and then you stop and get back on a normal schedule.  Then the winds are favourable and off you go until the winds turn again and you stop for an unspecified time.  You had better not be a person that likes a regimen because if you are you could never survive as a sailor.

Simon's town the east side of the Cape

The naval vessels from our slip, the sub is parked just in front of this boat
The marina is located right next to a naval dock and as we came into the marina today we passed a vintage World War II submarine.  After we had tied up I said to Barry what did you think of that submarine, he replied what submarine?  He was so focused on driving the boat, it was blowing 20 knots, that he didn't even see the sub. 

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Proof that we can actually go that fast

It really was cold out on watch, notice the toque

Knysna Heads

You have to pass really close to these rocks when going through the heads

Looking towards town the light parts are sand bars. 
We are going to leave within the hour, our next stop will be in False Bay after we round Cape Agulhas and we will be in the Atlantic Ocean, wish us luck.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The rock art was located under the lip at the top of the hill
While waiting out the gales in Durban we did a flying visit to the Drakensberg mountains.  They were only a 2 hour drive so we convinced the crew from Tagish to come along and set out for an overnight trip.  Our first venture was a hike up to see the San rock art, it was at 2500m.  We had to    have a guide because some of the rock art had been defaced in he past.  The paintings were over 2000 years old and the guide explained that no one lived in the area where the paintings were.  The shaman  would come up to the area and go into a trance, that was induced by hunger and herbs and then they would paint what they had seen in the trance. 

After we left the fenced off area where the paintings were we scrambled on up to the top of the hill.   Just over the next couple of ridges was the country of Lesotho, we didn't go far enough to stick  our feet over the border though.  We spent the rest of he day driving north through the mountains.  The roads were pretty decent except one I chose, it was a shortcut and at one point I was worried we were going to take out the bottom of the car.  The mist closed in so we did not get to see one of the highest peaks but the landscape was beautiful.  At dinner that night a impressive thunderstorm came up and the power went out in the country club where we were eating.  We all got up bright and  early the next day and Brian, Dorothy and I went on another short 2 hours hike. Barry stayed and guarded the car and rested his ankle. 
The mist was closing in

The first day the guide explained that we shouldn't point at a certain mountain with a finger but with a closed fist. The legend says that if you point the mountain gods will be angry and cause a thunderstorm. I didn't know and broke the taboo, about an hour later sure enough, the black clouds rolled over the top of the mountains, the temperature dropped, the lightening lit up the sky and down came the rain.  Thankfully it did not affect the footing too much and as we descended another storm cell went through, this one brought hail, a new experience for us in the southern hemisphere. 

Monday, December 03, 2012

Small gauge railroad we found on the way out of the harbour

For our grandson Quinn

Well we are safe and sound in Port Elizabeth.  Barry is now talking to me.  We were very happy to arrive after bashing into the wind and waves.  We are tied up to the dock.  We went out visiting last night.  As soon as I got on the dock I noticed I was unstable, I was doing the sailors lurch down the dock, my body still thinking I was at sea.  We had a couple glasses of wine on a buddy's boat and then were invited for dinner.  I was cool so went back to change clothes, as I stepped off the boat the dock finger tilted and my natural balance deserted me and in I went, scaploosh.  Fortunately I didn't bash anything and there was a dock line there so I did a push up on the line and was back on the dock in a flash looking and feeling like a drown rat. The last time I fell in like that was in Yellowknife on the occasion of my fortieth birthday and I have a scar on my cheek to remind of that fall.
You just never know what you may find, these are in a taxidermy shop
We are off to find the sunbrella factory that is here, there may be a weather window to go across the bottom of Africa tomorrow.
No sunbrella here that is the right colour, we are currently sailing towards Knysna.
We are on our way south again, as we speak we are approaching Port Elizabeth, which is almost at the bottom of Africa.  We had a great passage here except for the last day.  We left Durban and managed to catch the Agulhas current.  Wow,  did we ever go, I have a picture on my phone and on the camera of us doing over 11 knots.  We were making over 7 knots of hull speed and then a 4 knot current made us zoom along.  We had a 60 hour weather window and we were approaching East London with 18 hours left in the window.  It was only another 125 to Port Elizabeth so  I urged Barry to continue.  A guy on the Peri Peri radio net said that it wouldn't be too bad and that we should go for it.  That seemed to change Barry's mind and he agreed to continue.  Of course, we lost the current and were making a measly 7 knots so it took a lot longer to get here than I anticipated.  You guessed it the weather changed, the winds came on our nose and at the moment we are motoring almost full speed into the wind and waves making only 3 knots.   We are bouncing around, but it is not too bad, but Barry is extremely angry with me. There has been lots of shouting and recriminations  on both sides and it is not fun to be on board at the moment.
Last night in the middle of the night we were motor sailing, we changed tacks and could have sailed but used the motor to keep us higher into the wind.=  The raw water intake was not getting enough water because of the angle of our heel and the motor overheated.  The high temperature alarm went off causing much consternation because we did not know the cause at first.  The alarm kept ringing for 15 minutes until Barry disconnected it.  This of course added to his misery!!
I guess I should just let him make his conservative judgments about the weather and be happy with what he wants, I am sure that would lead to a happier boat,  We are not unsafe at the moment, just a tad  uncomfortable, we should be in port in 5 hours, all remaining as it is.
On a happier note we tested the Christmas cake and it is yummy if slightly underdone due to a faulty stove that Barry's thinks is fine.  The oven refuses to remain lit and I have to put a spoon between the knob and the grab bar that goes across in front of it for it to remain lit.  It took over 5 hours to ΕΎ cook the cake because the oven kept going out.  It tastes really yummy though!!!